The defence: there is no evidence, sentence Friday

Lawyers asked for full acquittal of Vitaly Markiv, asserting that he is completely extraneous to the death of the Italian photojournalist

This report by Giacomo Bertoni was produced by Ossigeno per l’informazione in collaboration with La Provincia Pavese, National Union of Italian Reporters and the Journalists Order of Lombardy to supplement the media reports with an objective, timely and exhaustive account of the progress of the trial underway in the Court of Pavia where the alleged perpetrator of the killing of the Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli and the Russian journalist Andrey Mironov is charged.

This text has been published on and has been sent to the OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media in Vienna, who is following the story closely.

Read the previous articles here

Just a few days to go before the conclusion of the murder trial underway for ten months in Pavia against the Italo-Ukrainian soldier Vitaly Markiv, the only defendant for the death of photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli, caused by the explosion of mortar shells and other firearms in 2018 in the Donbass region where national and pro-Russian groups clashed.

On Friday 12th July 2019 the judgement is expected which will be announced in the Hall of the Annunciation in Piazza Petrarca.

The prosecution, the defence and the civil parties have already presented their arguments. On Friday, July 5th , in the courtroom of the Court of Assizes of Pavia, at the last hearing of the trial, Donatella Rapetti, the defence lawyer of Vitaly Markiv, challenged the entire case of the prosecutor Andrea Zanoncelli, who had asked for a17 year prison sentence. Rapetti started with the ballistic tests. “From the preliminary investigation – he said – too many fundamental elements were excluded. We don’t have the shrapnel extracted from Rocchelli’s body; the taxi, which we could see on video, hasn’t even been found “.

Furthermore, he added that there is little data concerning the day of the attack. “We do not know for sure even if on that May 24th 2014 at 5 pm Markiv was really in service – said lawyer Rapetti –, we do not know if he was in his position from which he could only glimpse the Zeus Ceramic building from where the attack was launched”.

According to the defence, Markiv would be extraneous to any responsibility for Rocchelli’s death. “Markiv was a simple soldier of the National Guard – the lawyer repeated -, his task was to report any suspicious movements. He signalled them to his commander and then it was the commander who had to take the decisions. The National Guard was present on the hill with 45 men, but it was in support of the Ukrainian army, lined up with a hundred trained soldiers”.

The defence then disputed the idea that Rocchelli was killed because he was an uncomfortable journalist: “From the papers it clearly emerges that Markiv did not hate journalists, on the contrary, he helped them by giving them directions, warned them of dangers, and as soon as possible he let himself be interviewed. No one wanted to kill Rocchelli because he was an Italian journalist. The Rocchelli family is certainly a victim, but it is the victim of a war. We ask that this Court of Assizes acquit Markiv for not having committed the crime”.

The sentence is scheduled for Friday 12th July. Given the expected large turnout, and the large number of accredited journalists, the president of the Court Annamaria Gatto has decided that the judgement will be announced in the Sala dell’Annunciata, a large hall belonging to the province of Pavia, in Piazza Petrarca, which will be manned with special security measures.

Meanwhile the friends of Andrea Rocchelli have founded a non-profit association called “Volpi scapigliate” (Bedraggeled Wolves), with the aim of keeping the story of the young photojournalist from Pavia alive in public opinion.

GB (wt)

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